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New Whiskies

Batch 197

by
Compass Box Affinity; Campbeltown 21-year-old by Whiskysponge; Glenfarclas 10-year-old by Cadenhead’s; Glen Keith 24-year-old by Asta Morris; Glen Moray 38-year-old by Whiskysponge; Single Orkney Malt 11-year-old by Asta Morris

A new innovative Calvados-Scotch mashup from Compass Box precedes the first bottlings from satirical blogger the Whisky Sponge and a slew of Asta Morris and Cadenhead releases in this week’s new whisky reviews.

Compass Box’s aptly-named Affinity kicks things off with its ‘splendid combination’ of Domaine Christian Drouin Pays d’Auge XO Calvados and Scotch whiskies matured in French oak and Sherry butts. Barley and apples are a classic pairing in baking, says Compass Box, and Dave Broom finds similar elements of cooked fruits and honeyed spice in this limited edition spirit drink, too. 

Next up is the first bottling from the whisky world’s favourite anonymous satirical blogger. A 21-year-old single malt from an unnamed Campbeltown distillery has a strong floral nose, pineapple and coconut notes – is Broom the only one feeling the urge to cha-cha on a tropical beach?

A delicately oaked 10-year-old Glenfarclas from Cadenhead shows off the Speyside distillery's bold spirit character, displaying more fresh barley, citrus and earthiness.

Indie bottler Asta Morris also returns this week with a highly perfumed 24-year-old Glen Keith which, once settled with a drop of water, becomes ‘generously mature’.

The Sponge’s second bottling, a Glen Moray 38-year-old, is characteristically apple-forward, though you may wish to leave the water on the side.

A hefty waft of smoke and oil from Asta Morris’s Orkney malt brings a savoury close to this week’s tasting. Wafting between cigars and peat embers, this whisky is equally at home lounging indoors with a velvet jacket, or in an anorak on the moor.

An upbeat playlist accompanies this week’s tastings, with Serge Gainbourg, James Carr, Don Covay, Sly Stone and… er… Barry Manilow?

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • Affinity (Compass Box)

    Score

    89

    Affinity (Compass Box)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46%
    Production type
    Spirit drink
    Region
    n/a
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Starts with fresh pears along with a hint of ginger and cinnamon, some clove, then pastries glazed with apple syrup. It’s bright yet has substance and, in time, some apple kombucha emerges over musky florals. Things are now becoming heady and honeyed. With water added there’s more overt Calvados notes as the rich, drowsy and spiced elements mingle with light oak and baked fruit.

    Palate

    An immediate sweetness leads to a more savoury mid-palate, where the high levels of spice mix with cooked-down fruits. It’s surprisingly thick in feel, flowing gently over the tongue. It tightens slightly towards the back, before things start to fizz and pop again. Water triggers a lift and brings those pears back into play. There’s weight here, and the baked fruits continue to add succulence, with those spices covered by syrup.

    Finish

    Chewy, long and spicy.

    Conclusion

    A really rather splendid combination. Recommended.

    Right place, right time

    Can’t mix two different spirits? Annoyed that Scotland can work happily with France? Relax Baby Be Cool.

    Available to buy from The Whisky Exchange. It may also be stocked by these other retailers.
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    Campbeltown 21 Years Old (Whisky Sponge)

    Score

    87

    Campbeltown 21 Years Old (Whisky Sponge)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    55%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Campbeltown
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose

    A rather delicious mix of high-toned floral fragrance with a little jag of lime jelly, then candied fruits, yuzu and, in time, an almost effervescent quality. A sweet caramelised quality fills out the background, before coconut and pineapple emerge. With water there’s a flash of sandalwood and cedar mixed with lemon, before returning to the sweet fruits.

    Palate

    A scented, almost dusty mix of cinnamon and rose petals kicks things off, and while white peach adds softness to the mid-palate, there’s a constant tingling and fresh acidity, which allows the more perfumed elements to zip around. Just towards the back there’s a light grip which helps to give things more substance and shows that it isn’t as flighty as it may first appear. With water added that mix of coconut and pineapple is now out front, and the acidity upped.

    Finish

    A little short, but that’s no problem.

    Conclusion

    Not just a fruit bomb. A Scotch Piña Colada.

    Right place, right time

    Throw your hands in the air, grab your glass, it’s time to hit the Copacabana.

    Glenfarclas 10 Years Old (Cadenhead)

    Score

    88

    Glenfarclas 10 Years Old (Cadenhead)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    58%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    There’s some sweet cereal elements to start with, but also an enriched dough component, some brassy weight and light heather root. It’s subtle (amazingly for its strength), mixing hard chalk, green pear and almond with that yeasty bread factor. With water, a tiny floral element, fresh barley and light hints of orchard fruit appear. Complexity aplenty.

    Palate

    Shows real presence from the off. There’s low oak influence here, allowing the bold distillery character to show itself fully. Big and quite bulky in feel, there’s an almost roasted quality which acts as a base for dried flowers, fresh citrus and even a prick of acidity. Towards the back it deepens into light earthiness. Water brings out a gentle creaminess, then dark elderberry fruit.

    Finish

    Roots and roasted barley. Hefty.

    Conclusion

    Has all the weight of the distillery character to the fore. Glenfarclas in the buff.

    Right place, right time

    Stand up, be Brave & Strong.

    Glen Keith 24 Years Old (Asta Morris)

    Score

    86

    Glen Keith 24 Years Old (Asta Morris)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    51%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    A highly perfumed start of lavender air freshener, but once you allow this fug to lift you get custard-covered soft fruits emerging. Water settles it down, adding in chocolate profiteroles and Rice Krispies clusters, rosewater, some dusty plums and the start of toffee.

    Palate

    The perfumed element flies off quickly, allowing you to see that there’s a rich maturity here with pulpy fruits and tangerine, then a touch of Weetabix as the dry oak starts to close in. Thankfully there’s sufficient depth to stop it dominating. With water the juiciness of the fruits is offset by the toffee, honey, briary fruits and dark chocolate, then lemon verbena and travel sweets.

    Finish

    Long and soft.

    Conclusion

    Apart from the strange opening, this is a soft and generously mature dram.

    Right place, right time

    Gorge yourself with Chocolate Honey.

    Glen Moray 38 Years Old (Whisky Sponge)

    Score

    89

    Glen Moray 38 Years Old (Whisky Sponge)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    49.5%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Lots of highly concentrated Russet apple alongside ripe tropical-tinged fruits, overripe peach and that typical Glen Moray gentleness. In time there’s the bite of rhubarb and strawberry chews, but it never overtakes the whisky’s fat, thick maturity. A light waxiness starts to develop, then comes through fully when water is added. The fruits remain fresh and juicy.

    Palate

    It slides in, slips off its shoes and sits down quietly. There’s more of the baked fruit, now with powdery tannins added. Like the Glen Keith there’s just enough orchard fruits to carry. Remains relatively discreet with a new, lightly minty herbal quality. It’s more delicate than you might imagine, so best leave the water on the side.

    Finish

    Gentle. A light touch of apple and humidor.

    Conclusion

    Quietly elegant.

    Right place, right time

    Calm, charming and reserved. Life Turned Her That Way.

    Single Orkney Malt, 11 Years Old (Asta Morris)

    Score

    86

    Single Orkney Malt, 11 Years Old (Asta Morris)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    58%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islands
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    Big, punchy smoke from the beginning, mixing with a slight oiliness, a touch of cream, bay rum, then angelica, dried Seville orange, cigar ash and violet. When water is added there’s a spike of lemon peel and the cigar is lit once more, its smoke clinging to a velvet jacket. In time a vegetal note starts to develop, along with more of the oils.

    Palate

    Starts in pretty much the same fashion as the nose, with smoke and the oiliness, and then smouldering incense, vetiver, lemon and the tiniest hint of salt. As it settles you can pick out a mashy maltiness and chestnut-accented weight. There’s complexity here, albeit one that’s hard to nail down. With water it rambles out onto the peat moor: peat oils, grasses, sphagnum hummocks; plus the cereal, some orange and this glowing ember of peat.

    Finish

    Clinging; lightly smoked.

    Conclusion

    Relatively unhindered by oak, this is very Asta Morris – always somehow finding the quirkier side of distilleries.

    Right place, right time

    Walking in the Moonlight on the moor.

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